The paleo diet is a way of eating based off the foods humans ate during the Paleolithic era — hence, the “paleo” diet. Although the paleo diet is different than the Whole30™ Program, they both focus on making a simple shift by focusing on foods that our bodies were designed to consume while simultaneously eliminating foods that are disruptive to our systems. Think of eating and enjoying foods like high quality meats and fats, fresh vegetables and fruits while avoiding foods like alcohol, dairy, grains, legumes, processed foods, starches and sugars. In general, if nature made it, eat it, if man made it, avoid it!
Here are five things to know before starting a paleo diet.
Although meat consumption is encouraged on the paleo diet, focus on high-quality cuts of meat like wild caught fish, free-range chicken, organic pork and grass-fed or grass-finished beef whenever possible. If you can afford to upgrade your protein purchases, definitely do so.
In the Paleolithic Era, when early humans came across fat sources, they enjoyed them knowing these foods would sustain them and provide energy for the days and weeks to come. When adopting a paleo diet, go ahead and eat high quality fat sources like avocados, organic coconut oil and grass-fed butter.
The paleo diet is sometimes referred to as the “all meat” diet, which is not necessarily true. Although early humans consumed wild-caught seafood and high-quality meats, they also had access to seasonal produce like vegetables. A real paleo diet includes a variety of vegetables, so stock your kitchen with your favorite veggies because when adopting a paleo diet, 50% of each of your meals should consist of vegetables.
Most people bundle fruit and vegetables together into one category and then only focus on eating fruits. Although fresh fruits are allowed on the paleo diet, it’s important to limit high-sugar fruits like grapes, pineapples and even bananas, while emphasizing low-glycemic fruits like blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.
When adopting a paleo diet, it’s important to eliminate foods that are disruptive to our body’s systems. These foods include alcohol, dairy, grains, legumes, processed foods, starches, and sugars. Processed foods, for instance, are usually packed with additives, artificial ingredients, preservatives and sugars and should be avoided or eliminated entirely. When adopting a paleo way of life, a good rule of thumb to remember is if a certain food grows or comes from nature, eat it, if it doesn’t, don’t.
When broken down to the essentials, the paleo diet consists of high quality meat, a variety of vegetables, limited fruits and high quality fat sources like nuts and seeds while eliminating everything else. Get in touch with your human roots, imagine life as a hunter-gatherer, and you’re halfway there!